The day of being able to go out and buy a $40 wireless router from Walmart is over. Over the past year, there have been multiple security breaches on a multitude of wireless routers so you might be asking yourself what is the best options out there. As a techie, I initially matched the setup I use at school because I thought it would be fun to have a system with lots of options and control so I can tinker. The reality was the last thing I wanted to do when I was home relaxing was mess around with my wireless setup after I have spent a day at work doing similar tasks.
The first thing you need to look at is your comfort level and your needs. Do you need something that is easy to set up and maintain that just works or do you want something that has a little more control over your network? I decided to go with something I didn’t need to worry about and would just work which is the new mesh systems. There are a few choices out there, all which work well and are easy to set up. The three main options, in my opinion, is the Eero, Netgear Orbi, and Google WiFi. Plan on spending a little more money if you decide to go with a mesh setup but the peace of mind is entirely worth it. The other feature that is a requirement is auto-updates which all three systems I listed can perform.
I decided to go with the Eero system and purchased the base unit with two beacons. The amount of devices you purchase for any of the systems depends on the size and layout of your house along with the building materials used in your walls which can sometimes interfere with wifi signals. Each of the three websites will help you in choosing the right amount of devices for your setup and the beautiful part is if you need more, you just purchase an extra device and it is easy to add into your current system. The reason I went with Eero is they had great reviews and I liked the features it included. I suggest comparing all three systems to see which one would best fit your needs, however, you will be happy with any of those three brands. You spend more up front but the peace of mind has been enjoyable as I no longer have to come home and tinker with my wireless settings.
One of the questions I receive frequently is should I buy a wireless extender to get a signal into part of my house where it is weaker? You can purchase extenders from almost any big box store but one thing to keep in mind is due to how they work, your internet speed will be cut in half. So if you pay for a 50mbps connection you will only see around 25mbps or worse. If having great speed is not a problem then this is a simple solution that would work well. The great thing about the mesh options is you will receive full speed with all the devices, there will be no loss of network speed in the additional units. No matter where I go in my house I can receive our full 100mbps internet speed.
If you need a bit more control or some specific features that the mesh does not offer I would look at the Netgear Nighthawk line of wireless routers. As I mentioned earlier I would avoid spending under $100 for any wireless router. This is something you use every day, you want to make sure you have something you know will work and you know can be kept updated so the potential of security flaws is kept to a minimum. The problem with the wireless routers like everyone used to purchase from the big box stores that were in that $40-80 range is most of them are not kept updated. They are so cheap there is no benefit to the manufacturer to keep the devices updated.
Buying modems, wireless routers, and switches can be a daunting task, especially for those that don’t care to know more about how they work or just don’t understand how they work. There are finally some great options out there that don’t require the end-user to be a network specialist. You spend more for that convensience but trust me that the peace of mind is completely worth it!
Please leave a comment below if you have any additional questions or need some help with your own setup!